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Rawles embraces moguls coaching challenges


Scott Rawles has a new title, but his face is hardly new within the tight-knit moguls group on the U.S. freestyle ski team.
    Last week, Rawles was named the new head coach of the U.S. moguls squad, replacing longtime head man Donnie St. Pierre. Rawles began his career with the U.S. team in 1999 as a contract coach with the C team group, and in 2000 he was hired as a World Cup moguls coach.
SCOTT RAWLES has a new title, but his face is hardly new within the tight-knit moguls group on the U.S. freestyle ski team.
    Last week, Rawles was named the new head coach of the U.S. moguls squad, replacing longtime head man Donnie St. Pierre. Rawles began his career with the U.S. team in 1999 as a contract coach with the C team group, and in 2000 he was hired as a World Cup moguls coach.
    “I’m really familiar with our system, I coached in the last two Olympic Games and have been around and through the trenches,” Rawles said Sunday, two days before he and a small group of athletes headed to Switzerland for some preseason training.
    “All the athletes have a good idea of where we’ve been, and I’m looking to them for ideas and input on where we’re going with this. I have a pretty good idea of where I want to take [the team], but even with as long as I’ve coached, if I’m not learning and getting better, I’m probably not doing my job either.”
    The 47-year-old Rawles begins his tenure at a critical juncture in the history of the U.S. moguls team. The core of what was, arguably, the best and most decorated men’s team in the history of the sport was gutted by retirements. Olympic medalists Travis Mayer and Toby Dawson, former World Cup overall winner Jeremy Bloom and standout Travis Cabral have all hung up their skis, leaving the stage open for a hungry bunch of proven, if not as well-known, winners.
    “Out of what you would call our top seven guys last year, David Babic and Nate Roberts are the two holdovers from that crew,” Rawles said. “You look at what we lost and it’s huge. That group left a great legacy for these young guys to look up to. And I think over the last four years these young guys have seen what that crew did and they want a part of it, they want to be successful at those levels, which is really exciting.”
    Roberts won the 2005 world title and is now an unquestioned leader of the team, while Babic excelled on the World Cup late last season and capped the year with the national moguls title. Rawles expects a number of younger skiers to compete with Roberts and Babic for World Cup starts this season, including Dave DiGravio, Mike Morse, Jay Bowman-Kirigin, Landon Gardner and Sho Kashima.
    The women’s team, meanwhile, is loaded with World Cup and Olympic experience. Four of the five members of the A team have competed in the Olympics, with Jillian Vogtli and Shannon Bahrke having skied in two apiece. And 20-year-old Hannah Kearney is the reigning world champion.
“That’s a super-competitive group, there’s a lot of experience, they’ve had a lot of success and I’m expecting a lot of leadership out of that group,” Rawles said. “And we’ve got a whole group of skiers behind that who are looking up at that group saying, ‘What do I need to do to get better to be right in that mix.’ ”
    Rawles said most of the athletes were told that St. Pierre was leaving the team a few weeks ago, and Rawles has been heading up most of the team’s off-season projects since May to help make the transition as seamless as possible. Rawles also is coping with the loss of technical coach Liz McIntyre to retirement in August.
    “We’ve had a good run of things the last six years I’ve been working with the team, and it’s definitely a new chapter with Donnie and Liz moving on,” he said. “It’s sad to lose those guys, but in another way it’s exciting to have the opportunity.
    “… I learned a lot from both Donnie and Liz through the course of the years. They were both incredibly hard workers, and Donnie was always a very steadying influence on our team, and that’s one thing I really hope to bring to it too.”
    Rawles said team members will begin training on snow in November in Colorado, likely in Summit County but “we’ll have to chase the snow a little bit.” The team’s fall camp officially begins Nov. 25.

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